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June 8, 2023

From timidity to advocacy- Marie Chantal and her community’s story of transformation

Marie Chantal, a leader of a Muhuba cell, Musanze district and beneficiary of Ingo Z’amahoro project, one of Haguruka’s projects that seek to promote peace in families and societies, shares how their families were going through struggles not because they desired conflicts but because they lacked knowledge.

She says many couples, including hers and her husband, faced so many conflicts and many homes were on the verge of breaking down.

“For example at my home, my husband and I didn’t have peace. Every little disagreement would turn into serious conflict. Most of it was around property and miscommunication,” she says.

When families don’t have peace, it’s mostly because as a couple you lack understanding, and this affects everyone in the household including children, she adds.

The local leader is therefore grateful that after they were trained by Haguruka, a lot changed for the better.

“Our mind-sets have changed. The conflicts we had were because my husband didn’t know that I also had rights as a wife, but this has changed now. I also had no idea.”

“What we learnt is that married couples need to treat each other with kindness, respect each other and know that if there is anything the family owns, it belongs to both of you as a couple and not one person as an individual. For example if you have a farm, it’s always good to discuss on how to manage it, together. That’s how to build our homes- together.”

Marie Chantal went on to share that couples now work as a team, bringing together what they have earned, which has ensured development of families- children now go to school, and most families are now living in harmony.

On the side of women and their status in society, Marie Chantal says women were always left behind because of lack of information and self-confidence.

“We couldn’t even stand to lead anything for fear of not knowing what to say to others or how to lead them. If ever was any suggestion made for a woman to lead, they would decline and instead suggest for a man to be chosen saying that they are the ones who know how to lead.

“But now, women are into leadership too. In our village women now have confidence, as a local leader my committee has three women and two men. I can now stand and speak for my people, request for water or electricity or any other thing that we may need for our development. I can advocate for my village.”

They even have a saving group where they work, save together and share profits.

“We were encouraged to reach out to others who have such issues to be close to them and share this knowledge with them. Haguruka did a wonderful job in sensitizing us, I request that they continue in other areas too so that they also manage to develop.”

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